How realistic does the game environment depicted in the shooter video game ‘Battlefield 3’ appear to someone playing it? The urban, desert, city and forest spaces can often appear to be well developed and brought to life, even giving it a reasonably plausible environment to make your actions and choices within – even if the campaign mode does have a clear linear story you are following and the multiplayer space is driven by competitive gameplay.
A new project I am putting together at the moment will explore how realistic gamers think this environment is to play in and what moments and experiences really drew them further into an immersive gameplay moment, and which broke the ‘suspension of disbelief’ or immersiveness of the game into an unrealistic experience. This is an important issue to touch upon as game studies often point to the significance of immersive world building as one of the core appeals of gaming, that the realism and believability of the game environment and story is one of the reasons they will return to a game and find it a satisfying experience.
It will be fascinating to see what aspects of a FPS like Battlefield 3 are seen to sustain a believable experience, and what sequences of the game are seen to offer a different type of play through their lack of realism. A related question would be how these experiences might also overlap with a sense of life outside the game – a feeling of engaging with locations or experiences they see on TV or in the news. Particularly interesting given the overlap between the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the locations featured in Battlefield 3. And, to pursue this thought what sense of engagement might there be with a city far away from these conflict like Hobart, Australia. Does it get one to see this location any differently, or in a new light?